March 1, 2011
AALL's Consumer Advocacy Origami: Day Two of the "Return on Investment" for AALL's Vendor Colloquium
As noted yesterday, no webcast, live or archived, will be available to AALL members in order to form their own opinions about today's Vendor Colloquium session. And is anyone really surprised to hear that AALL has "asked" that no live blogging take place during the meeting except through official channels? See Sarah Glassmayer's comment and link to this post. Perhaps some are, just like some thought there was a possibility that the vendor colloquium might be webcast live or archived for later viewing. But wait ... here's an artist's recreation of yesterday's meeting.
It's not just a matter of being cynically-inclined to not be surprised that all this is being conducted under the table --- it's a matter about which those of us being full of gray hair, assuming we have hair, have learned to predict what AALL officialdom will do even before they think about doing it. We also can predict what our very expensive major vendors will likely say before they say it; "we'll be happy to do anything that doesn't negatively impact our guaranteed revenue stream."
The Origami of AALL's Consumer Advocacy. Unfortunately, it is part of a legacy we aging and decrepit Boomer law librarians leave for future law librarian leaders to address -- at least for those who are reform-minded and willing to butt heads with the status quo. In this, my generation has failed. But there are some members of my generation who offer ways and means to change the current state of affairs and IMHO, their advice should be taken into consideration. Because they see the end of their professional career just over the horizon and have no political ambitions to move up the official AALL food chain, their motivation for changing the origami that has been AALL actions is genuine. These law librarians of my generation are well-informed and so fed up that they are willing to speak out. Their careers may come to a close before the mess we created is fixed, but they are willing to help make the reforms needed to turn AALL into something more than a borderline membership dues paying obligation because "we're law librarians" even if our professional association is nothing more than a "paper tiger."
$27,500 Spent to Form a Working Committee to Produce Some Paper on "Shared Principles." So once again here is today's agenda for the vendor colloquium you won't be seeing or hearing for yourself. Do note the agenda indicates that the final agenda item will be to "form a working committee for the purpose of drafting a final 'Shared Principles' document as a guide for both vendors and librarians."
OMG, I hope the title of that report won't include the word "partnership." What is the point of spitting out this document other than for AALL to point to something and say "look, we did something." Are vendors going to abide by it? They already ignore AALL Fair Practice Guidelines because they can. It's unenforceable. So will this report.
AALL is a paper tiger -- outwardly powerful and dangerous to the naive (only the naive) but inwardly weak and ineffectual. Our association is harmless. AALL's "bark is worse than its bite." Hell, it has been years since AALL has even barked. Anyone remember the last time AALL roared like a real tiger? But do watch our major vendors gush over how "great, informative and productive" the two day meeting was and how important the collated pieces of paper called "Shared Principles" will be. And then watch how nothing substantial changes in the vendor-buyer relationship.
At this moment in history, the only thing some of our vendors take seriously at all is the call from law librarians outside AALL officialdom to engage in concerted consumer advocacy. Our vendors simply believe this won't happen in any way that disrupts how they conduct their anti-competitive business practices because AALL is in their pocket. It's up to law librarians who represent their institutions as buyers, not AALL officialdom, to take action. It's up to concerted activity by professional librarians who give a damn and are willing to dedicate the time and effort to get it done. It can be accomplished but not by an unenforceable "Shared Priniciples" document. Do note, we are not alone. This is an issue that extends beyond the world of law librarians.
Yes, yes, I know some will think I am jumping to conclusions. But those conclusions are based on being a law librarian for 30 years. Remember $27,500 of our money is being spent on the Vendor Colloquium. What return on investment do you expect to see? [JH]
Today's Agenda for AALL's Vendor Colloquium
8:30 am: Continental breakfast
9:00 am: Roundtable 1: Facilitated discussion of the value provided by vendors to the flow of legal information and the challenges they face from content creators, content customers and content users.
10:30 am: Break
10:45 am: Roundtable 2: Facilitated discussion of the value provided by libraries to the flow of legal information and the challenges they face from content creators, content customers and content users.
12:15 pm: Lunch
1:00 pm: Concluding Work Session: "Coming Together Around Shared Principles, Frameworks and Definitions"
Final review of the themes and terms defined in previous sessions.
Form a working committee for the purpose of drafting a final "Shared Principles" document as a guide for both vendors and librarians.
2:45 pm: Closing Remarks: AALL President Joyce Manna Janto
3:00 pm: Adjournment